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Friday, January 28, 2022

Local LGBTQ advocate discusses problems with the recent transgender military ban

The U.S. is an embodiment of liberty and equality. It’s a shining beacon of hope across the globe. However, as our issues grow increasingly more apparent and ugly, our light has dimmed. The U.S. Supreme Court disappointed the country and set an intolerable precedent when it granted the Trump administration’s request to temporarily ban most transgender people from serving in the military on Jan. 22.
This decision and the majority of the Trump administration’s decisions fuel the fire of evil in this country and signal for the racists, homophobes, sexists and white supremacists to step out of the shadows. We have just begun the second month of 2019, but this outright transgender discrimination throws our country back a century in terms of LGBTQ rights.
We all know that awful people run rampant across this “land of the free.” I was still appalled and enraged when this Supreme Court decision was released. It’s always shocking when the officials you idolize turn out to be morally questionable people.
Banning transgender people from the military, even temporarily, is outright discrimination. Targeting these people reinforces negative stigmas toward the LGBTQ community on a nationwide scale. The LGBTQ community is widely misunderstood and this discrimination by the Supreme Court casts it in a negative light. Perpetuating these hateful ideas is an egregious mistake.
I spoke with Joe Antonelli about this Supreme Court decision to gain some perspective. Antonelli is the founding president of the Gainesville Community Alliance, a social group founded in 1991 for the LGBTQ community of Gainesville. Antonelli has engaged in the battle for LGBTQ rights for nearly 60 years. He offered me a wealth of knowledge and shared many of his first-hand experiences from his lifelong battle for LGBTQ rights.
The Supreme Court’s decision to grant the Trump administration’s temporary transgender military ban astounded and infuriated Antonelli. This blow to transgender rights did not dampen his spirits, though.
“[LGBTQ rights] is a social movement, it is going in the right direction. There have been gay people in the military forever, they just weren’t out. To say [transgender] people can’t serve is ridiculous. It’s a waiting game, I don’t think it’s going to affect us greatly,” Antonelli said.
Antonelli hopes that the lower courts will prevent this temporary decision from becoming final. He believes we need laws to protect all types of people from this kind of discrimination and he has faith that our great country will continue to grow and improve.
“We as a country have to open our arms and let liberty do her thing,” Antonelli said.
I agree that our country overall is moving the right way. The current administration, however, continues to take steps backward. I constantly question how we made such a 180-degree turn from our optimistic, progressive and forward-thinking former president to the current homophobic and racist con man that holds the reins today. How in the span of a few years have we switched from legalizing gay marriage to banning most transgender people from serving our country?
It comes down to the time-old issues of pride and fear. People want their ideas, their party, their race, their sex and their agendas to win. It’s time to get over ourselves and admit that the way people thought, spoke and lived in the past was wrong. We are entering a new era of freedom for all people, no matter their gender, race, sexual orientation or preferred pronouns. People need to swallow their pride and understand that hateful speech and actions are intolerable in today’s world. After the Supreme Court’s decision, it seems our justices can lead the way by admitting they were wrong.
Chasity Maynard is a UF journalism freshman. Her column normally appears on Fridays.
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